SHAPE in the United States has responded to a Macedonian call from pastors in Barbados to “Come over and help us!”
Paul Dreger, national SHAPE coordinator, will come alongside two indigenous Barbadian certified coaches currently pastoring in the United States to shape up a plan and ship out SHAPE to Barbados in the Caribbean.
Pastor Whitfield Blenman (extreme left), of Solid Rock Church of God in Orlando, Florida, will join Pastor Jefferson Bannister (extreme right), of Grace Church of God in Brooklyn, New York, to give back to the Barbados Church of God, which played a critical developmental role during their formative years.
At the Global Gathering, this heartening news was announced during a luncheon at Golden Corral in Anderson. It thrilled Martin Goodridge, chairman of the Barbados General Assembly (second from right), along with a twenty-five-member contingent of pastors and leaders of Barbados. Present also were some thirty-five supportive leaders from the Grace and Solid Rock Church of God congregations and Paul Dreger. Three pastors, Lennox Boyce, of Silver Sands; Vasco Perry, of Chelsea; and Junior Spooner, of Orange Hill (center), expressed a hunger to be coached; they hope for sustained help to develop their leadership and pastoral skills.
The Barbados General Assembly tried using annual conventions to invite topnotch leaders, pastors, and professors from Church of God institutions in the United States and Canada. These outstanding leaders came, equipped pastors and leaders in workshops for one week, and left. The effort did provide needed knowledge, but it lacked the kind of lasting engagement that pastors need for transformation.
The Barbados General Assembly made a shift and called upon Pastor Bannister to focus on church discipleship. Using the discipleship model from his Navigator partners, he ran a workshop, but next steps failed to materialize. He became busy leading both the Eastern New York district and the Eastern States Ministers’ Retreat (ESMR), and sitting on the Business and Leadership Resource Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of God in the United States and Canada, all while pastoring.
Upon reflection, we realize that God was shaping all three leaders to coach from the position of practitioners in pastoral and leadership ministry at all levels. First, SHAPE was brought to the Eastern states when Jefferson was leader and Paul was initiated as a national coach trainer. Second, the relationship between Paul and Jeff continued after the ESMR SHAPE experience when Paul became national SHAPE coordinator and Jeff became a national coach trainer. Third, the Barbados Assembly began leaning on Pastor Blenman, who also took up a post on the Ministries Council of the General Assembly of the Church of God in the United States and Canada.
God, in his creativity, gave us SHAPE as a discipleship and coaching model, and when the cry for help came, Jefferson was able to recommend it to help fill a pastoral leadership developmental need in Barbados. Paul was encouraged to say yes , for Paul and his wife had already made several missionary trips to Barbados and had built relationships with pastors and leaders there. In this initiative, Paul will spearhead the training of these pastors as coaches and then leave Pastors Blenman and Bannister to continue engaging the pastors in Barbados for three years in a cluster. Only God knows where SHAPE will be shipped next!
By Jefferson Bannister